Walk Safe this winter, residents reminded 

WB partners up again to offer free shuttle to staff housing

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With snow packing the sides of the roads and traffic increasing for the holidays, locals and visitors alike are reminded to Walk Safe in Whistler this winter.

A letter received at the Dec. 20 council meeting asking for better signage or lighting at the intersection of Highway 99 and Village Gate Blvd. prompted a discussion at the council table.

"Drivers coming from the north travel too fast and often come to a skidding stop when the lights change — right in the middle of the crosswalk," wrote Paul Austin in the letter.

"Part of the problem is there is no light or sign at the actual crosswalk. The lights are on the opposite side of the intersection which is a significant distance away."

Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said council has received many letters about the issue over the years.

"Certainly it's a concern and something that is raised on a regular basis with the (Ministry of Transportation), who in fact have the jurisdiction over that intersection," she said, before referring the letter to staff to once again bring up with the ministry.

Coun. Jen Ford said she had encountered the same person walking in the dark several days in a row, but could see them because they were wearing a reflective vest.

"I could see them, and it was amazing," she said.

"I would advocate for everyone in town to wear visi-vests when they're walking in and around the highway... I think that we're lucky that we're not having more accidents due to pedestrians on the highway."

Pedestrians should make use of the Valley Trail rather than walking on roads made narrow by snow, Wilhelm-Morden added.

"For some reason when there's a lot of snow on the roadways, whether it's in subdivisions or on the highway, people think they can walk down the middle of the road with impunity. It's the weirdest thing," she said.

"Both motorists and pedestrians alike have to be so careful in this weather that we have these days, and the lighting that we have."

Whistler has once again teamed up with the RCMP and the Whistler Fire Rescue Service this year to run its Walk Safe public service campaign, which encourages pedestrians to use a reflector, head lamp, reflective clothing or stay on lit trails.

Reflectors are in short supply at the local RCMP detachment on Blackcomb Way, but an order has been placed for more.

The campaign also includes tips for drivers, like staying focused and giving yourself extra time to stop and look twice for pedestrians when visibility is poor.

On average, 76-per-cent more pedestrians are injured in crashes from November to January, according to the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC).

More Walk Safe tips can be found at www.whistler.ca/walksafe.

Whistler Blackcomb is once again teaming up with the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Gibbons Hospitality and Moe Joe's Nightclub to offer a free shuttle on the No. 7 route this winter.

Last year the free shuttle led to a 300-per-cent increase in ridership on the route up to staff housing — and a drastic reduction in close calls on Glacier Drive.

"It's been amazing, and since we've had the program we haven't had any instances of people getting trapped in a snowbank or anything worse, haven't had any collisions or even near misses with vehicle traffic or mountain operation traffic at all," said VP of employee experience Joel Chevalier.

WB also works hard to educate its 4,100 employees about the importance of Walk Safe, Chevalier said, including poster campaigns and handing out reflectors.

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